J ournalists have had to hit top gear to cover the fall of Pailin and some of the
stories behind the stories have been pretty racy.
Some enterprising RCAF
soldiers saw the press corps as walking dollar signs. On the trek from
Battambang, ill-equipped newsmen were offered the rental on a mosquito net and
hammock for $10 per night. A pack of Fine cigarettes normally retailing for
1,500 riel fetched $1, as did 20 cent packets of instant noodles. When a Post
reporter asked why the noodles were so expensive, the soldier replied: "We fight
and we do business at the same time."
One seasoned Western correspondent
stumbled into an overzealous and short-sighted soldier who managed to confuse
him for a Khmer Rouge guerrilla. He dived for cover in a roadside ditch and hid
behind his backpack from a hail of bullets. One slug ripped into the bag and the
only thing stopping it turning thehack into Swiss cheese was a tin of pate.
Meanwhile a border trip for Phnom Penh-based journalists organized by
the Thai government was intended to show how it was all just a conspiracy theory
that their military was aiding the KR. But there should have been red faces all
round at a briefing. On the map this fair land was labelled Democratic
An employee of one of Phnom Penh's leading hotels was left
speechless on payday. After receiving his hard-earned from a ground floor office
he trudged upstairs to a hotel shop to break a hundred dollar bill, only to have
the owner throw it back at him after a scanning machine check. The bill was a